Crews are nearing completion on renovations to downtown Springfield’s historic Heer’s Building, which after close to 20 years of sitting vacant, is set to reopen this fall. KSMU’s Scott Harvey took at tour and has this report.
Current projects underway in downtown encompass over $50 million in investments. But many feel that revitalization will not be complete without a new and improved Heer’s Building. And at nine stories and 110,000 plus square feet, this once longtime department store plays a huge role in reshaping Center City.
Heer’s Luxury Living will feature first floor commercial space and residential units in floors two through eight. Here on the third floord, Craig Hoolihan with Rosemann and Associates architects guides media and city officials through a commons area that will be equipped with dining space, a game room and 12-seat theatre. Down the hall, we enter this one-bedroom one-bath unit, which will rent for $1,095 a month.
This is one of 80 apartment units throughout the building, which range from $675 per month for a one-bedroom efficiency up to $2,100 for a two-story penthouse on the top floor.
Jim Nichols is the CEO of the Lee's Summit-based Dalmark Development Group, which has invested roughly $16 million in the structure since acquiring the facility during the recession. He says his company is proud to be part of the downtown’s revitalization.
“When you look at urban housing and you look at Springfield and you look at downtown, this is just a testimony about how things are moving and how positive it is,” Nichols says.
Now 70 percent complete, officials hope to have the building ready by August 1. Working from the top down, crews still have framing and drywall to do on some residential floors before completing the first floor commercial space. Nichols hopes it’s a combination of retail and restaurants. The lower level will also feature a fitness center, a washer/dryer station, and a dedicated office for the Springfield Police Department.
“There needs to be a police presence. And that gives us a more visible presence when there’s lots of stuff going on,” says Police Chief Paul Williams. He adds the office will give citizens a better sense of security and a place to go to ask questions or report a crime.
The fourth floor clubhouse will feature a 2,000 square foot rooftop deck that faces north. There or four stories higher, and you have your best view of the city.
“It just brings another dimension downtown versus weekend nightlight. Now you have urban lifestyle, urban living, and we hope others come down and build as well,” Nichols said.
And join they have. From this seventh-story corner unit, you can see nearly all of the major renovations currently taking place downtown, from the former Woodruff Building and the Sterling Hotel to the Vandivort.
Rusty Worley with the Urban District Alliance says some 300 people will be moving to downtown later this year as a result of all of these renovations.
“I think come next fall when we have these units occupied, when we have the 100th anniversary celebration for this building, downtown is going to be a much different place.”
Since closing in 1995, the Heer’s Building has had multiple development proposals, but little traction was made until Dalmark came to the city in late 2013. Mary Lilly Smith, Springfield’s director of planning and development, says the group was provided a small business development loan for the building’s exterior doors and windows and a property tax abatement.
Nichols feels a combination of Dalmark’s experience on older buildings and good timing in securing the property for a reasonable price has helped bring the renovation to the cusp of completion.
To date, 140 people have already put their name on the waiting list. You can learn more at www.heersluxuryliving.com.
Follow Scott Harvey on Twitter: @scottksmu